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Tony’s hand is calloused and warm, the soft pads of his fingers rubbing circles into the soft skin on the back of Steve’s hand, over the fragile tendons and bones. It’s calming, a soft and gentle gesture. Simple and caring. The soft sheets are pulled up over their bodies, concealing their linked hands, keeping their warm bodies content in the cool room.

They’re both laying in Tony’s large, king sized bed, their bodies eased into the soft mattress. The soft sound of the heater humming in the background. The blinds and curtains are pulled shut, blocking out any natural light the night would offer. It’s pitch black.

Outside, it’s snowing lightly. The small and fragile flakes slowly fluttering to the frost covered grass below, gathering there. He figures it’ll be an inch by morning at the least.

Tony and Steve’d been together for months, though Steve insisted they take it slow. Begrudgingly, Tony had agreed, because honestly, Tony knew Steve was worth it. It wasn’t Tony’s preferred way to take things, he was practically known for his stupid and rash, spur-of-the-moment ideas, but not this time. Maybe that’s what he needed.

Despite the fact they were close friends before they’d started dating they still went on dates together, went to dinner and movies, went and got coffee together and sometimes Steve would just come hang around in Tony’s lab while he worked. It was nice, it was simple. They learned more about each other this way, more personal things than they’d known just as Avengers or friends.

This was their first night actually together. They’re in the same room, sharing a bed, sharing body heat. It’s wonderful and intimate and perfect. Steve hardly remembered what is was like falling asleep against someone else’s body, wearing someone else’s clothes, and holding their hand, but still, he never remembered it seeming to be so beautiful and intimate. Steve can’t ruin this, he just can’t. He doesn’t want anything to get in the way of this moment. He just wants to fall asleep next to Tony, breathing in his Cologne, feeling his touch, and wake up with their legs tangled together, hair messy and voices scratchy. But still, he can feel pressure growing in his chest, like his oxygen is slowly being sucked away from him. He feels small, helpless, a feeling all too familiar and none the less terrifying to him.

It’s only a dark room, that’s what he says to himself, over and over in his head. And it is, of course. It’s Tony Stark’s, AKA his boyfriend’s, bedroom to be exact and It’s safe, it’s comfortable, he shouldn’t be so scared, there’s no reason to be, but he is.

He had a feeling, if he was to have told Tony that he fell asleep in a bed with the lights on every night, just so he wouldn’t have to open his eyes to darkness, to the vastness of not knowing where the walls began and ended, and where he was even though he knew, even though he should know, he’s sure Tony would have laughed. Would have joked.

Maybe not.

Maybe, he wouldn’t have believed him at all. He wouldn’t have believed Steve Rogers, Captain America couldn’t sleep without a damn light on. It was pathetic, and yet, here he was, in exactly that scenario.

He wasn’t always this way, when he was younger it was fine. He’d actually rather liked the dark. It had been Bucky when they were young, who would insist they leave a light on. Now here he was, fully grown and after everything he’d been through he found the dark to be something he couldn’t face. Maybe it was simply because he was too alert all the time by this point, maybe it was because he couldn’t see, and what he couldn’t see he couldn’t control, he couldn’t fight. It didn’t matter, this was the way it was and he was desperately trying now to keep his hands from trembling in Tony’s gentle hold.

Steve could feel his breathes becoming slightly faster paced, each breath shallower, harder to take. It felt like concrete was slowly drying in his lungs, pouring down his throat, and filling his rib cage as it tightened. He lay as still as possible, flat on his back with his eyes shut tightly. He could do this, he had too, for himself, for them.

“Steve…?” Tony asked quietly, almost hesitant. He was laying on his side, facing Steve, the side of his face pressed into the pillow, his soft, dark hair tasseled. “Hey, what’s wrong?” He propped himself up on his elbow to look at Steve better.

“N-nothing, sorry.” Steve stammered out, only now noticing how his breath echoed in the large room, hot tears trailing down his cheeks. He didn’t understand what was happening, he could normally withstand great amounts of stress, panic and pressure without even having it register on his face.

“Yeah, not nothing. What’s wrong?” Tony asked gently, carefully wiping the tears off his cheeks with the pad of his thumb. “You can tell me, I won’t judge you.”

Steve shut his eyes, nodding slightly. He wanted to just blurt it out, just tell him and never have to look at him again, but he couldn’t. He wasn’t sure he was actually capable of getting the words out. His mouth felt dry, his throat scratchy, each time he swallowed it felt like sandpaper.

“Steve, hey…” Tony hushed, kissing his forehead gently as he clicked the lamp on so he could see better.

Steve could feel pressure rise off his chest as he opened his eyes again, light dimly illuminating the room. He took a deep breath, letting oxygen flood his lungs as he calmed himself. He could see the walls, the details in Tony’s face. He felt safe.

At this point he wouldn’t be surprised if Tony had at least some idea of what had been bothering Steve, but he still couldn’t say it, couldn’t look him in the eye after this.

Tony continued stroking his hair gently for several minutes, whispering sweet things into his ear and pressing small, feather like kisses all over his neck and face until Steve was completely calm. His voice was quiet and understanding when he spoke again, not something he’d expected to hear. “Would it help to leave the lamp on?” He asked, watching Steve closely for a reaction.

Steve frowned, biting his lip between his teeth as he finally looked at Tony. “Tony,” Steve said meekly, his voice more quiet than he’d expected. “I don’t know what happened, I used..I used to be fine, I swear, it’s just after everything..I feel,” he paused, the words catching. Tony finished for him.


Steve nodded, frowning. Somehow Tony seemed to understand, and it made it a little better, a little easier. He still felt idiotic, his stomach turning uncomfortably, but there wasn’t much he could do about that. “Thank you,” Steve mumbled.

“Of course, I don’t mind.” Tony smiled, looking somewhat proud to have figured out the cause of Steve’s distress. “Now, how about you get your cute ass over here so I can cuddle you and we can get some rest?”

Steve smiled softly, nodding. “Okay.” He watched Tony reach over to adjust the light on the nightstand, his hand fumbling before the lamp slipped off the table and clattered to the floor, the light bulb shattering, causing Tony to sit up quickly, pushing the covers aside.

“Shit, shit, sorry.” Tony rambled as he got out of bed, grabbing the pieces of broken glass carefully in his hands and throwing them away. Tony went to switch the light on, still mumbling apologies when Steve got up and wandered over, wrapping his arms around Tony’s smaller and shorter frame, pulling him against his chest.

“leave it off.” Steve whispered against the shell of Tony’s ear, fisting Tony’s shirt in his hands loosely.

Tony frowned, leaning back against him carefully. “What, why? I don’t mind Steve, seriously.” He assured.

“No, I know, it’s just, you kinda give off enough light when you aren’t completely under the blankets.” Steve bit his lip, feeling his cheeks heat up as he tapped Tony’s Arc Reactor lightly through his shirt.

“Oh,” he responded dumbly, grinning. “Okay, come on then.
I guess I’m your nightlight now.” Tony teased, turning around to face Steve. He stood on his tiptoes, pressing a hand gently against Steve’s chest to steady himself as he kissed him softly.

“Oh, shut up.” Steve replied softly, smiling down at him as he picked him up bridal style with unsurprising ease, climbing back into bed with him and pulling him close to his chest. Their foreheads were pressed against one another’s, the slightly blue light from Tony’s chest was glowing gently, illuminating the area around them well enough Steve could make out the room with ease, and it didn’t bother Tony considering he was used to it by now.

Tony yawned softly, watching as Steve let his heavy eyelids slowly fall shut, his body sinking down into the mattress. Tony smiled lazily, letting himself do the same.
“G'night Steve,” Tony said softly through a barely open mouth, his mind already wandering into dream.

Steve smiled to himself, his eyes closed and his voice calm. Their bodies were pressed gently together, their warmth and scent lightly evident. “Goodnight Tony, I love you.” Steve said quietly, his brain hardly registering what he’d said as they both slipped into sleep.